Botanical day at Farnham Gravel Pits, 13th July 2019
Just a week after National Meadows Day a lovely warm day greeted 13 members at Farnham Gravel Pit for a botanical field trip. We were fortunate to have Kevin Walker, Head of Science for BSBI with us again to guide us around the fine details of the different species found in this SINC designated site.
As we started in the car park Kevin showed us some familiar Common Centaury, Dovesfoot and Cut-leaved Cranesbill, Hoary and Common Ragwort, and getting less familiar, Knotted Pearlwort, perfect for beginners like me! Crossing the access road through the gate in the otter fence, we explored the north lake southern shoreline where there was a wonderful display of Zigzag Clover, a moderately scarce plant in this area. Also there was a stand of Common Spotted and Pyramidal Orchids. The Rush family was well represented in this area, much to Sonia’s delight. Kevin then introduced us to the least showy members of the Dandelion family ….. this is when you definitely need an expert with a hand lens to separate the Catsears (Hypochaeris) from the Hawkbits (Leontodon). (See plant list for which species were revealed). The Umbellifers in flower included Upright Hedge Parsley and Hogweed. Kevin showed us an imported aquatic called Sweet Flag which is now naturalised throughout our area.
Back over the road we paused in the top car park for lunch, having added Blue Fleabane, Mouse-eared Hawkweed and Weld to our ever increasing plant list.
The afternoon was warming up as we walked down the shady west side path around the south lake where there was easy access to the shoreline and Kevin explored the aquatic plants. Some of these plants have been introduced from overseas but there seems to be an equilibrium in the south lake, except of course for the Crassula which is rampant all around the sandy shores and in the pond area.
By the time we arrived at the pond area the afternoon heat had built up, our notebooks were full of notes, sketches and pressed leaves, and we said goodbye and thank you to Kevin. It was a wonderful day when we all learned so much from him as he shared so generously his extensive botanical knowledge, as the full plant list made up by Kerry, will show.
Thanks also to June Atkinson and the Management Team for maintaining the site.